Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Naked Author Disappears; Suspects Questioned

(Reuters--March 13) Right-wing rabble-rouser and noted necrophiliac Ann Coulter and Los Angeles novelist Naomi Hirahara are prime suspects in the disappearance of Naked Author Paul Levine, according to police sources.

Levine has not been seen in public – other than eating a black pastrami Reuben at Brent's Deli in Northridge – since his blistering March 6 blog in which he called Ms. Coulter "a viper, a media whore, and an anorexic pit bull."

Ms. Coulter apparently told police she had dinner with a man the night Levine disappeared, but she refused to identify her companion. Earlier news reports have linked her romantically with Satan. She categorically denied having been in the company of Rudy Giuliani, a man she previously called "a total drag."
Levine, known for his erratic behavior and odd choices in adjectives, has also been engaged in a running e-mail battle with Ms. Hirahara.

Both are finalists for this year’s Edgar Allan Poe award for best paperback original mystery. Ms. Hirahara is nominated for SNAKESKIN SHAMISEN and Levine for THE DEEP BLUE ALIBI. Ms. Hirahara told police she was attending a mud-wrestling class when Levine disappeared, an alibi that is still being checked out. Naked Author Cornelia Read, whose A FIELD OF DARKNESS is nominated for best first novel, is not considered a suspect.

Police also questioned Renee Levine, the missing author’s wife. She refused to answer, invoking her rights under the Fifth Amendment, her pre-nuptial agreement and the Treaty of Versailles. Pressed by LAPD homicide detective Harold (Hoagy) Carmichael, Ms. Levine said, “I just hope Paul remembered to pay the life insurance premium."

At this time, no one knows whether Levine will show up Saturday for "Brunch and Bullets" at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel. Contrary to rumors, "Brunch and Bullets" is not just another morning with Jim Born. Rather, it's a joint event of the International Thriller Writers Association and Beyond the Bell Reading is Fundamental. You get to have lunch with an author and one "free" book for a fee of $150, so the food better be damn tasty and the author damn entertaining, or vice versa. A few tickets still remain, and can be purchased here, though Naked Authors will not refund your money if you have a lousy time.

(Other authors attending include Gayle Lynds, Sandra Brown, David Morrell, John Lescroat, Heather Graham, Bob Levinson, Gregg Hurwitz, Denise Hamilton, David Dun, Nancy Taylor Rosenberg, Bonnie Hern Hill, Christopher Rice, Chris Reich, and Jon Land. They are all wily practitioners of the art of the thriller, and you should buy their books...but not until you own every book ever written by a Naked Author).


In order to assist police (and pin a murder rap on Naomi Hirahara), here is an honest-to-goodness e-mail exchange between the two authors, which appears in the current issue of "The March of Crime," the newsletter of the Southern California Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America.

NH: When I found out that we both had been nominated for an Edgar in the same category, I challenged you to a mud-wrestling competition to decide who would be representing Bantam Dell. But I heard nothing from you. What gives? Were you afraid of my mud-slinging prowess?

PL: Just what do you mean by "mud wrestling?" Is this what they used to do in bikinis and thongs at the Hollywood Tropicana? If so, you should know that I am old enough to be your father, and if we tangle, I will be accused of being a dirty old man. You will likely be charged with elder abuse. I do know a few wrestling holds, however. Are you familiar with the "crotch-and-a-half?"

NH: I ain't gonna touch that one, ole man. On a slightly more serious note, you write humorous mysteries. What is your observation about comedy and awards? Do we underestimate the power of comedy in our lives, especially during turbulent times?

PL: I write comedy? The times are turbulent? Why wasn't I informed of this? By the way, do you intentionally use words in your titles that simple folks like me can't understand? I refer to "Bachi" and "Shamisen."

NH: What about "gasa-gasa"? Do you mean that you got that title? Actually with words like "sudoku" and "manga" all over chain bookstores, I think my titles are a piece of cake.

PL: Personally, I try to use titles that will fool people into buying my books. "Solomon vs. Lord" was intended to seduce the biblical crowd. It worked, though I got several e-mails objecting to the kinky sex. "The Deep Blue Alibi" was a devious effort to sucker buyers into thinking it was a new edition of John D. MacDonald's "The Deep Blue Good-Bye." And "Kill All the Lawyers" played on a sentiment as American as apple pie and sushi.

NH: You've worked as a lawyer, journalist, television writer, and now mystery novelist...

PL: (interrupting) Obviously, I've had great difficulty keeping a job.

NH: What job most required you to fabricate the truth?

PL: Easy. Lawyering. Judges often accused me of writing fiction in my briefs. (These days, I write fiction in my boxers). In a similar vein, you are multi-talented bi-lingual and ambidextrous...by which I mean you write fiction and non-fiction. Which do you prefer and is it difficult to go from one to the other?

NH: Hmm--'fiction in my boxers'--give me a moment to forever extricate that image from my mind! In terms of non-fiction and fiction, I love both forms. There's a real beauty in doing research for non-fiction; you are held to such a high standard. Fiction has different requirements. I can identify a few mystery authors, including Jacqueline Winspear, who really take their research for novels seriously, but many of us bend the facts to fit the story. I often pillage my non-fiction work for details to put in my novels. I figure that I put in time to dig out these gems, so it's free for the taking. Back to your television work, I've seen for myself that there are JAG groupies out there. How about Solomon and Lord groupies? Paul Levine groupies?

PL: Have I got groupies? Does chopped liver have fat? When I speak at my Mother's Hadassah luncheon in Ft. Lauderdale, I've got to beat them off with a stick. (Or maybe a shtick). Here are the two most-asked questions. which come somewhere between the chicken soup and the cheesecake: "So, are you single?" And, "So, you making any money at this?" Now, let me turn the question around on you, Naomi. Groupies? Stalkers?

NH: Believe it or not, my protagonist, Mas Arai, a seventysomething gardener, has his own legion of fans, stretching from Cape Cod to Tokyo. Sujata Massey has even said that she'd like to marry Mas. So there's still hope for you yet, Levine! I remember when we first met at the L.A. Times Festival of Books last year, I shared with you the story of my California-born father being an atomic-bomb survivor--the inspiration behind my Mas character. You also had a remarkable World War II story about your own father.
PL: My father, 1st. Lt. Stanley Levine, flew a B-29 and was shot down over Yawata on August 8, 1945. He and his nine surviving crew members floated in the Sea of Japan for a week, were captured and taken to Hiroshima Prison Camp Number One. En route, they learned of Hirohito's somewhat ambiguous announcement of the surrender. It took a couple more months for them to be liberated. I wrote about this for The Miami Herald just weeks before my father died. It's on my website. At the top of the page, click on "More Writing." Then scroll down that page to "Hiroshima Personally." I sold a mini-series based on his crew's adventure to CBS, but they never shot it. I got the rights back and wrote it as a spec feature but never sold it. Naomi, if you have $80 million or so handy, I think we can do this together.

NH: Well, who knows after the Edgars? Good luck to all and speaking for myself and Paul, it is indeed a wonderful honor to be nominated. Hope to see you Southern Californian MWAers in New York!



  1. You are poossibly too odd for words. I like Namoi's reference to you "Ole man".

    I thought only Ron Jeremy could perform the Crotch-and-a-half.

    I'm guessing your pre-nup with Renee went something like you saying, "Please marry me, I'll do anything at all." And she didn't wake from the coma so you took it as a yes.

    Good luck at the Edgars. I'm trying to work out the trip now.


  2. Cute, Polly, er, Paul...

    Made me smile a lot. Hmmm. Maybe I should go read Naomi's books.


  3. Great fun! More! More!

    By all means, Marianne, read Naomi's books: they are excellent, and there is a subtlety to them that kicks in (or did for me) days after they're read. I would be a groupie for Naomi, but I'm taken, and Paul's not my type!
    Had a marvelous afternoon and evening with Mr. Born--he's not my type either.
    Not to muddy the waters for the police, but the last time I saw Paul, he was in the company of his wife and Jim Born and Patty Smiley.
    Is fowl play suspected? His wife was in a tennis outfit. Oh, tennis, not badminton.
    I'd better have a good time at the 'Bullets' luncheon!

    Patty's Groupie

  4. Naomi is faboo. Maybe we should just convince her to GetNaked with us so we could cheer for both of you. But don't worry, Pauly. If she chooses mud, I got your back.

  5. I'm not a suspect? Man... I NEVER get to have any fun. And I even have an alibi: I was... um... having lunch with Morgan Fairchild. Yeah, that's the ticket...


    Naked Author Found Alive in Ravine


    SAN FERNANDO VALLEY.—Television writer and Edgar-nominated mystery author Paul Levine, missing for 24 hours, was found alive hiding in a cave dug out of a ravine near the Los Angeles River.

    Police say that Levine, fearful that news about his ghostwriting of an authorized autobiography of former Attorney General John Ashcroft was going to be released in the Wall Street Journal, “literally ran into the hills.” Levine, an outspoken critic of Ann Coulter, the war in Iraq, and DVD purchases of his TV program, “Jag,” by public libraries, has apparently been living a double life, according to LAPD detective Foster Nash.

    “Apparently Mr. Levine was financing his lavish lifestyle by ghostwriting and ghostblogging for a number of conservative personalities,” said Nash. “The stress of these dual identities finally took its toll on him.”

    Levine, wearing only a loin cloth, babbled about taking sumo lessons from now retired wrestler Akebono in an effort to crush Naomi Hirahara, a mystery colleague who was voted by her high school classmates as “most likely to help.”

    “He’s a sweet man, but a sick man,” stated Patricia Smiley, one of his fellow bloggers on www.nakedauthors.com.

    “We in the mystery community were all very worried about Paul,” commented Hirahara. “I even initiated a collection for a reward for his return and raised $4.85. It would have been an even five dollars if his other blogmates chipped in, but they were short on cash this month.”


  7. Don't know who wrote that last comment but they deserve the Hilarity Award for really really funny writing.

  8. Well, Paul, you're a chip off the old block, aren't you, my boy? Just reading two posts at once because I couldn't make it to the page yesterday - I just love reading this blog.

    And thanks for the word on my research, however, I confess I subscribe to the Susan Isaacs school of research for fiction. In the acknowlegments for her last book she said, after thanking everyone from the local rabbi to the chief of police and the DA, and all sorts of other important people, (and I paraphrase here): "All these people have helped me, however, where their facts don't meet my fiction, I have jettisoned the facts."

    I don't know if I jettison them, but I take a wide turn or two!

    Once again, great post, Paul - I knew Coulter would get it in the neck one more time, at least.